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By Alessandro Carboni

EM – Embodied Map (2016)

A tool for urban mapping and performance art practices

School of Creative Media, 2016

City University of Hong Kong

(Phd research - Prof. Jane Prophet, Supervisor)

The research explores ‘subjective mapping’ process, using embodiment and performance practice as a strategy for reflection on, and representation of, urban space and takes account of ways in which cities are defined as complex systems. It also considers the mapping process as an embodied experience, as an antithesis to the traditional map, which is commonly a disembodied visual representation. The doctoral dissertation was conducted with the consultation of Prof. Jane Prophet, and examines, contextualises and describes the making and development of the novel EM Tools for urban mapping and performance art practices. The toolkit was created, designed and developed through iterative research conducted at the University of Aarhus, City University of Hong Kong, University of Malmö, ITU University of Copenhagen. By the end of the thesis, the completed EM Tools was presented as a guide for artists to use. The premise of the EM Tools is that artists can use their body as a device to capture urban space and to map what happens in a place, capturing the geometrical and temporal dimension of that place. The toolkit is designed using four principles: observe; capture (urban space mapping through corporal actions); extract (selective re-enactment of the actions in the studio); transmit (corporeal map into a choreographic score). I structured the research using a hybrid combination of artistic research and action research methodologies. As part of this I led a series of workshops to iteratively design, test, and apply the toolkit through a reflexive spiral of action research. In these workshops participants were also trained in a simple form of action research that is built into the toolkit design. These workshops, specifically the participants’ use of my novel EM Tools, enabled the participants to discover something new about their environment by using body actions, like walking, positioning, and fitting in the urban spaces, folding legs and arms, bending knees to make maps of their own urban exploration. The mapping practices of the individuals involved reportedly contributed to a deeper and more autobiographical understanding of place. EM Tools has been successfully used in many workshops and the final version of EM Tools is ready for future users. Preliminary findings of the research that have been disseminated through conferences and festivals, such as Media Architecture Biennale in Aarhus, Bi-city/Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture, Transmediale Festival in Berlin, Santarcangelo Festival and Crisalide Festival in Italy, and From Soil to Structure Festival in Malmö.  Specifically, EM Tools introduces novel thinking and creative corporeal practices of use to students, scholars and practitioners working in the fields of creative media, urban studies, critical cartography, site-specific performance, and experimental urban mapping research. More info about EM Tools:   

Phd Thesis - ABSTRACT

Case Study#1 Aarhus – November 2014
Location: Kunsthal; Participatory IT/Department of Aesthetic of Communication, University of Aarhus; Media Architecture Biennale, Aarhus.

20/11 –Em Tools – Cartography as embodiment process – Doctoral Consortium – (Paper Presentation). PhD research workshop/Media Architecture Biennale, Aarhus
03-07-10/11 – Em:toolkit – operative mode#, (workshop), Kunsthal, Aarhus
01/10 –Performing Urban Complexity: introduction to Em: Urban Mapping Toolkit. (Talk) Aesthetic of Space Research Lab/Talks, University of Aarhus.
25/09 – Performing Urban Complexity: introduction to Em: Urban Mapping Toolkit. (Talk) Pit Talks, University of Aarhus.

Presentation: Corporeal maps#Aarhus - 21.11.2014  – 6:00pm @ Media Architecture Biennale, Aarhus – Godsbanen, Aarhus

Contribution for the research: Astor Duan (participant), Mariana Gil (participant), Sara Manini (participant), Bridgette Tuckfield (participant), Mike Klitgaard (participant), Fie Carlsen, Marlene Staib (participant), Stine Bundgaard (participant), Jonas Sørensen (participant), Lone Koefoed Hansen (mentor), Geoff Cox (mentor).

Case Study#2 Hong Kong – April 2015
Location: School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong; Shek Kip Mei, Hong Kong – the case study was hosted by FUSE: Artist-in-Residence Program @ Videotage.

Case Study#3 Copenhagen – June 2015
Location: Adaptive Environment Research Group/Intermedia Lab, ITU/University of Copenhagen

02.05.15 – 15.10.15

Explorative resaerch with 

02.06.2015 -11:00 – 12:00am

Adaptive Environment Research Group - Introduction to Alessandro Carboni’s recent investigations around urban mapping and performance practice.

Case Study#3 Malmö – June 2015
Location: Living Archive Project K3/University of Malmö.

02.05.15 – 15.10.15

Corporeal maps#Malmo
05.06.2015  – 11:00am @Festival From Soil to Structure, Malmö.

02.06.2015 -11:00 – 12:00am
@K3 An introduction to Alessandro Carboni’s recent investigations around urban mapping and performance practice.

EM: tools urban practice and performance practices - 03.09.2015 – 2:00pm to 6:00pm
K3, Malmo

Contribution for the research: Susan Kozel (Mentor), in collaboration with Elisabet M Nilsson, Temi Odumosu, Jacek Smolicki, Veronica Wiman.

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